Biman Bangladesh Airlines' move to have a partner for ground handling activities at the country's airports is yet to see any tangible progress although nearly two years have already elapsed.
When asked, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon said to UNB, "We (Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry) have approved the ground handling rules and that have been sent to the Finance Ministry for its approval."
The government last year decided to appoint another company for ground handling activities and floated a tender in this connection.
Seven companies from six countries -- Swissport International Ltd of Switzerland, SITA of Singapore, Egypt Air of Egypt, Dnata of Dubai, Celebi of Turkey and two others from India -- showed their interest to be Biman's partner for the ground handling job.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines has chosen the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as the consultant authority for evaluating the tender proposals.
Biman Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director AM Mosaddique Ahmed said, "The work is going on."
The Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister said the matter of final approval for picking partner for Biman will come once the rules are finalised. "We hope, we'll get the Finance Ministry's nod in this regard by this year," he said.
Responding to a query about having a partner for ground handling activities, he said it is up to the Biman Board. "They're the final authority for that...the ministry has nothing to do with it."
The government decided to go for joint venture with an outside party for 10 years for the ground handling services at all airports in Bangladesh aiming to provide the highest level of customer service and operational excellence to airline customers, including international and domestic airlines, cargo flights, private and charter flights.
Now Biman provides passenger and cargo services to 7 domestic and 15 international destinations. Biman's ground handling services were certified by IOSA in 2008.
It provides ground handling support to 26 foreign carriers operating to and from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA), Dhaka. Biman also provides ground handling services at other airports of Bangladesh, including Shah Amanat Int'l Airport, Chittagong and Osmani International Airport, Sylhet.
It provides ground handling services to 910 passenger flights, 70 freighter aircraft and 10 charter aircraft a week. Biman's revenue earnings from handling services approximately USD 30-35 million per year.
Biman's present ground handling manpower strength is 1050, including 500 loaders. It has 210 motorised and 2968 non-motorised equipment.